Few people are aware that in addition to a Mk XI and a Mk XVI Spitfire, Vintage Wings is also restoring a Mk XII Hurricane.
Our Hurricane was built in 1942 in Fort William (now known as Thunder Bay), Ontario. It was originally a Mk IIB, but was converted to a Mk XII. Mk XIIs are known as the “Canadian” Hurricanes as they were all built by Canadian Car and Foundry in Fort William – over 1,451 in total. They were used as home defence fighters and none of them saw action in Europe. Our MkXII, registration C-GGAJ, was based first in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, defending against Japanese fire balloons, and later in RCAF Station Bagotville.
In 1946, merely four years after it was built, it was disposed of as surplus for $50 and was used as a child’s play structure.
From 1971-2000, the aircraft resided in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan, where it was restored by Harry Whereatt.
Vintage Wings acquired the Hurricane in 2006 and hopes to have it flying in the next few years.
The centre section of the fuselage had to be rebuilt due to corrosion, but is essentially completed now.
The wings are pretty much done, and should be test-fitted within the next month. The team will make a jig to ensure that the major wing attachment points on the fuselage and wings line up. The fuel tanks in the wings also need to be retrofitted; they were formerly used as gun bays.
These days the team of volunteers and staff at the hangar are test fitting all of the major cowling components. They zip-tie all the components to the airframe to see what needs to be rebuilt, repaired, or refitted.
Ian McKenzie, one of sheet metal workers, has been spending his days working on the empennage, or tail, of the aircraft. Each damaged piece needs to be fixed, either by replacing the damaged part with a new piece of aluminum, or the damage must be tapped out, filled with body filler and sanded. Adding body filler is kept to a minimum as it adds weight – and in the aircraft world, the least amount of weight is always ideal.
If replacing the damaged part is the way to go, the new piece must be joined to the old piece. Rivets are place every ½-1” on all overlapping surfaces. It’s a bit of a trade-off: the closer the rivets are together, the stronger the joint but the less it is able to flex, rendering it more susceptible to cracking.
This not a job for those with “butter fingers;” the rivets Ian is using are tiny, barely the size of the point on a pen. Instead of the more familiar process of pulling the rivets, Ian uses a rivet gun and bucking bar, squeezing the rivet between them to flatten the back end, which holds the two sheets of metal together.
Stay tuned to our website as we will have more information on our Mk XII and regular updates on the restoration progress.